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Coaches confident ahead of AFC opener

HA NOI — All coaches have so far expressed confidence about their chances at the ASEAN Football Federation-Suzuki Cup, which begins today with Group A action.

Build up: The Vietnamese squad seen during a training on Thursday. They will play Indonesia in the first match of the AFF Cup's Group A today.
Build up: The Vietnamese squad seen during a training on Thursday. They will play Indonesia in the first match of the AFF Cup’s Group A today.

At a technical meeting here yesterday, Toshiya Miura, the Japanese coach of Viet Nam, said he welcomed all teams to the capital city and considered all of them as strong as the others in this group, so anyone could advance to the next round.

Miura, 51, added that Viet Nam feared none of its rivals. “I am pleased to coach Viet Nam in my first AFF Cup when we play on the home turf. I do not worry about the pressure as we are the host team. We will make it our advantage,” the Japanese coach remarked.

In his latest action ahead of the tournament, the coach dropped three players from the final list yesterday afternoon. One of them is well-known midfielder Nguyen Trong Hoang, who was recently an indispensable part of the national team.

Viet Nam’s game against Indonesia is considered the key match of the day, as both are expected to make it to the knock-out round.

Miura, who earlier flew to Jakarta to watch Indonesia play against Syria in a friendly match, said Indonesia had several skillful players, and he had to keep his eyes on them.

Viet Nam Football Fedration (VFF) officials previously said several naturalised players who were recently added to Indonesia’s line-up really made their team more powerful.

The VFF also confirmed that Miura would be retained as coach regardless of the results of the Vietnamese team’s competitions this year.

Alfred Riedl, the Austrian coach of Indonesia, said he met with some difficulties in gathering his players, who had served their own clubs, in making preparations for the tournament.

However, they are ready for victory against the hosts today.

“We have plans to play with Viet Nam. I called experienced players to my team and will do our duty with the best,” said Riedl, who previously served as Viet Nam’s coach.

Riedl revealed that the Indonesian football federation set a target of winning this year’s Cup for the first time after placing second four years ago, when they were one of the hosts.

However Riedl, who received a kidney from a Vietnamese donator, did not care about it and confirmed that he would do his best for the team.

The other Group A action is the match between the Philippines and Laos. Thomas Dooley, the German-American coach of the Philippines, said Viet Nam and Indonesia were strong, but he feared Laos the most.

“The first match is always the most important and difficult one. If we lose, things get worse and it is hard to plan for the next games,” added Dooley.

He also warned his players against taking things easy regardless of their current standing as the highest ranked team in the world.

“The ranking is not a true reflection of reality,” revealed Dooley. “But I told the players that they have to be careful and not approach any match based on rankings. That will be a mistake.”

Meanwhile, David Booth, the English coach of Laos, said his team overcame strong rivals in the qualifying round to make it to the final round.

His team knew that their opponents in this round were much stronger, but they would serve as a big challenge to any team in Group A.

“We want to justify our coming into this competition, and it is for that reason, we hope, that we can at least create more than an upset,” said Booth.

“Games against Laos can probably be considered as the easiest, but we would want to make it difficult for any team that play against us.”

Both matches will be aired live on VTV channels. Group B matches will begin tomorrow, with Malaysia facing Myanmar and defending champions Singapore going up against runners-up Thailand.